Colton Herta Hits St. Petersburg Home Run

Colton Herta
Colton Herta scored his first Indy Lights victory on Sunday in St. Petersburg, Fla. (Al Steinberg Photo)

ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. – Colton Herta started from the pole and outpaced the field to win Sunday’s Indy Lights presented by Cooper Tires event on the streets of St. Petersburg in convincing style for Andretti-Steinbrenner Racing.

The son of 1993 Indy Lights champion and two-time Indianapolis 500 winning car owner Bryan Herta also put his name in the record books as the youngest winner in the 31-year history of Indy Lights dating back to 1985 at just 16 years old.

Last year’s championship runner-up, Santiago Urrutia finished second for Belardi Auto Racing ahead of Mexico’s Pato O’Ward.

After qualifying on the pole Saturday morning, Herta maintained his advantage at turn one, only for the caution flags to wave almost immediately due to an incident in the midfield involving Nico Jamin and Neil Alberico. Both cars sustained substantial damage but neither driver was hurt.

The restart again proved no problem for Herta, who soon began to edge clear of fellow front row qualifier Urrutia. Behind, after restarting fifth, O’Ward made quick work of passing Dalton Kellett before charging around the outside of Kyle Kaiser at turn one and finally completing the pass in turn two after a brief clash of wheels. Next in O’Ward’s sights was Urrutia, who proved to be a tougher nut to crack. He tried a couple of times, only to be firmly rebuffed.

A couple of mid-race caution periods due to single-car incidents involving Kellett and, later, Carlin’s Garth Rickards negated what had been a comfortable advantage of almost three seconds for Herta, but the youngster again proved up to the challenge as he kept his cool – and his lead – before taking the checkered flag 1.7797 seconds clear of Urrutia.

“All the yellows we were looking for yesterday happened today,” said Herta. “It was a good race and we came away with the win so we’re super happy. My first feeling was relief that the race was over, because that was a hectic one. I was always checking the mirrors on the restarts for Santi and learning how to do the best job on cold tires. It was a tough race, because Santi’s been in this position before – and he’s one of the toughest competitors I’ve come against in this situation. Coming away from this weekend with the championship lead puts me a little bit ahead of schedule.”

O’Ward battled his way to third after relinquishing the position to Kaiser and then repassing him soon after the final restart. Kaiser had to settle for fourth ahead of Saturday’s winner Aaron Telitz, who battled his way from 10th on the grid.

The finish:

Colton Herta, Santiago Urrutia, Dalton Kellett, Pato O’Ward, Kyle Kaiser, Nico Jamin, Neil Alberico, Juan Piedrahita, Zachary Claman De Melo, Aaron Telitz, Shelby Blackstock, Matheus Leist, Nicolas Dapero, Ryan Norman, Garth Rickards.